Military Capabilities

China moves closer to commissioning DF-41 ICBM after latest test launch

13 June 2018
An undated photograph showing a suspected Chinese DF-41 ICBM being carried by a 16-wheeled transport-erector-launcher vehicle at an undisclosed location. Source: Via China Military Online

China conducted the 10th test flight of its DF-41 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) on 27 May, according to a 5 June report by The Washington Free Beacon website.

Citing unnamed US defence officials the report states that the missile was launched from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center in China’s northern Shanxi Province, impacting several thousand kilometres to the west in the Gobi Desert.

While the test launch has not been confirmed by official Chinese sources, a number of media outlets, including the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) English-language website, China Military Online, have reported the story by the US website.

According to Jane’s Strategic Weapons , the DF-41 (CSS-X-20) is a three-stage, solid-propellant missile that has a maximum range between 12,000 and 15,000 km. The ICBM has a payload capacity of about 2,500 kg and may carry up to 10 multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicles (MIRVs), with their nuclear warheads yielding up to 150 kT. The payload may also include decoy re-entry vehicles and countermeasures.

Development may have been initiated as early as 1986 but the first test firing did not take place until July 2012. Following the previous test firing in late 2017, the state-owned Global Times newspaper reported that the DF-41 may enter service in the first half of 2018.

A commentary published on 11 June by China Military Online quoted Shao Yongling, a “Chinese military expert”, saying that if the test flight reports were true, the DF-41 would be “up to the service standard and ready for commissioning”.

The article noted that the DF-41 is not only China’s most advanced ICBM but also claimed it to be among the most advanced in the world.

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